CMS Raises Questions About NH Medicaid Reimbursement Other Medicaid News

first_imgThe federal agency requests state data and analysis about cuts in payments to hospitals in recent years.Modern Healthcare: CMS Queries N.H. On Medicaid Rate CutsThe CMS requested that the New Hampshire health department provide detailed information about reductions in Medicaid reimbursement rates in recent years. In a May 23 letter, CMS Deputy Administrator Cindy Mann asked the state’s Department of Health and Human Services to submit specific data and analysis about Medicaid rate and payment reimbursements within 30 days (Lee, 6/4).The Union Leader (New Hampshire): State HHS Commissioner Says Federal Claims About Data Are WrongThe commissioner of state Health and Human Services Department has reacted angrily to allegations from the federal agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid that the department is not providing data on residents’ access to services. In a letter to commissioner Nicholas Toumpas, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services asserted that the New Hampshire department has not furnished data to refute charges that access has been greatly diminished (Siefer, 6/4).Meanwhile, other outlets reported on Medicaid news in California and Georgia:California Healthline: State Health Officials Intrigued By New Medi-Cal DataLast week, the California HealthCare Foundation, which publishes California Healthline, released a survey of the attitudes and concerns of Medi-Cal beneficiaries. It has been a relatively long time since a similar survey was completed in 2000, so state health care officials were extremely pleased to get updated information, (Len Finocchio, director of the Department of Health Care Services) said. … One of the main general findings in the current survey is that beneficiaries are pretty happy with Medi-Cal. According to survey results, about 90 percent of the Medi-Cal insured have a positive view of the program and 78 percent said the program covers the care people need (Gorn, 6/5).Contra Costa Times/McClatchy Newspapers: Challenges, Opportunities Lie Ahead For Medi-Cal As It Readies For Major ExpansionAs California’s Medi-Cal program readies for an influx of 2 million to 3 million people when national health reforms kick in, major challenges lie ahead, including finding enough specialists who will see participants. The state’s existing 7.5 million Medi-Cal recipients already have difficulty accessing specialists, according to a study by the California HealthCare Foundation. And adults on Medi-Cal are twice as likely to visit the emergency room as people with other coverage, the study reveals. This may be an indication of greater difficulty in seeing primary care doctors (Kleffman, 6/4).Georgia Health News: New Plan For Medicaid Is Weeks AwayThe state’s Medicaid agency Monday announced an updated timeline for its decision on how the health program will be restructured. A press release said the state’s decision about the new model for Medicaid and PeachCare will come this summer, as experts had anticipated. And the Department of Community Health said it is projecting that it will begin the vendor procurement process with a Request for Proposals sometime this fall (Miller, 6/4). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. CMS Raises Questions About N.H. Medicaid Reimbursement; Other Medicaid Newslast_img read more

Mass Cost Control Legislation Seeks To Reconcile Wide Coverage High Costs

first_imgMass. Cost Control Legislation Seeks To Reconcile Wide Coverage, High Costs This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The federal overhaul is often compared to Massachusetts’ effort, but that state has yet to find a way to curtail health spending. ABC (Video): New Massachusetts Health Care Bill To Address CostsThe White House says it drew inspiration from Massachusetts reforms signed into law by Mitt Romney when crafting Obamacare, which is supposed to curtail health care spending over the long haul. There’s one problem: three years after expanding coverage in Massachusetts, the state is still grappling with how to pay for the reforms. The problem is so grave that the state legislature is working on new bill specifically aimed at curtailing health care spending. Paying for health care is not a problem unique to Massachusetts. But if expanding coverage is supposed to drive down costs in the long term, as advocates of health reform have suggested, it’s an after-effect not yet felt in Massachusetts. Since the law was passed in 2006, per-capita spending on health care in the state has increased to 15 percent higher than the national average and health insurance premiums have skyrocketed to one of the highest in the nation, according to a study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation (Ono, 7/27).In the meantime, a new Harvard study suggests to a writer that even a $1 co-pay can stop the poorest from getting care.WBUR: Mass. Experience: Even $1 Co-Pay Can Block Needed CareIt’s not enough to get everybody insured. You have to get everybody insured well enough so that they get the care they need. And in the case of very poor people, even a $1 or a $3 co-pay can be a barrier to care. That’s my take on a new Massachusetts-based study, done by Harvard Medical School researchers and just out in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Other states may want to take heed, now that the federal health overhaul has been upheld by the Supreme Court and they’re moving towards getting more people insured. All insurance is not the same, and for some, even the relatively generous Massachusetts Medicaid benefits may not be enough (Goldberg, 7/27).last_img read more

Polls Opposition To Changing Medicare Cuts Across Party Lines

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Two polls, one conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, and another conducted by KFF and the Washington Post, find that a majority of Republicans and Democrats oppose plans to cut Medicare benefits or transform the program into a “definied-contribution” model.Reuters: U.S. Voters See Medicare As a Top Election Issue: PollMedicare has become a top healthcare issue in the U.S. presidential election, surpassing the controversy over President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, according to a poll conducted just as Republican Mitt Romney pushed the issue to the forefront of the campaign with his choice of running mate. On Saturday, Romney announced he had picked Representative Paul Ryan, a lawmaker whose plan to cut billions of dollars from the U.S. deficit included transforming the costly, but popular, healthcare program for the elderly (Morgan, 8/16).Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Don’t Change Medicare, Most Republicans Say In PollAs Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare makes campaign headlines, a majority of Republicans oppose changing the government program for seniors, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Washington Post. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) That could spell trouble for presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his designated  running mate Ryan as voters focus on the Wisconsin congressman’s ‘premium support’ plan (Hancock, 8/16).CQ HealthBeat: Opposition To Cutting Medicare Benefits, Premium Support Cuts Across Party LinesIn a rare moment of near-agreement on health care policy this election season, a majority of Republicans and Democrats oppose cutting Medicare benefits or transforming the program into a defined-contribution model, according to one of two polls the Kaiser Family Foundation released Thursday. According to a joint Washington Post/Kaiser survey, which was conducted mostly before presumed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney named Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., as his vice presidential pick, found that 55 percent of Republicans want to maintain Medicare as it is currently structured and not change it to a system under which seniors get a fixed amount of money with which to buy health insurance (Bunis, 8/16).Modern Healthcare: Costs, Medicare Top Healthcare Issues For Voters, PollThe cost of both healthcare and health insurance, followed by Medicare, are the top healthcare concerns on the minds of voters in all political parties, according to an August tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. When asked about the top healthcare policy issues in this campaign season, 78% of Democrats, 73% of Independents and 67% of Republicans listed the cost of healthcare and health insurance as either extremely or very important to their vote for president (Zigmond, 8/16). Polls: Opposition To Changing Medicare Cuts Across Party Lineslast_img read more

System To Curb Medicare Fraudulent Payments Saves 115 Million

first_imgSystem To Curb Medicare Fraudulent Payments Saves $115 Million The Associated Press: New Medicare Fraud Detection System Saves $115 MilA highly touted new technology system designed to stop fraudulent Medicare payments before they are paid has saved about $115 million and spurred more than 500 investigations since it was launched in the summer of 2011, according to a report released Friday. Federal health officials said the projected savings are much higher (Kennedy, 12/15). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img

Huge Hospital Merger In The Works

first_imgHuge Hospital Merger In The Works If approved, Community Health Systems will buy Health Management Associates, resulting in a chain of 206 for-profit hospitals.The Associated Press: Community Health Plans $3.9B AcquisitionCommunity Health Systems Inc. plans to spend $3.9 billion to acquire Health Management Associates Inc. in a deal that would create a giant U.S. hospital chain just as the health care overhaul starts funneling millions of newly insured people into the health care system. But Community Health wants to buy its fellow hospital operator at a discount, with shareholders assuming some of the risk that the company faces from federal investigations (Murphy, 7/30).The New York Times: Community Health Agrees To Buy H.M.A. For $3.6 BillionRegulators have been investigating H.M.A.’s patient admission practices. (Community Health recently disclosed a subpoena from the Justice Department over a similar matter.) If approved, the deal would create a big for-profit hospital system with 206 hospitals in 29 states, many of which are in rural areas. It is the latest move by Community Health, which has struck 25 deals in the last six years (De La Merced, 7/30).The Wall Street Journal: Community Health Strikes Deal To Merge 206 HospitalsThe combination would bring together two companies facing similar business and regulatory challenges. Both reported earnings this week that fell well short of analysts’ expectations, results tied to declining patient volumes at their largely rural hospitals. Both also face continuing government investigations into aspects of their operations (Mathews, 7/30).Modern Healthcare: Activist Shareholder Skeptical Of Community’s Bid For HMACommunity Health Systems’ … billion bid to acquire Health Management Associates is facing a skeptical reaction from the hedge fund shareholder that had been pushing for a deal in the first place. Glenview Capital Management, the activist shareholder which has been agitating for a change of control at HMA since May, is pressing forward with the consent solicitation process to unseat HMA’s current board of directors and bring in a new slate (Kutscher, 7/31).Georgia Health News: National Hospital Merger To Be Felt In GeorgiaThe proposed $3.9 billion acquisition of Health Management Associates by Community Health Systems would unite five Georgia hospitals as part of a huge new chain. The deal reflects the hospital consolidation accelerating across the nation, ignited in part by the health reform law of 2010 (Miller, 7/30).In other hospital news, Consumer Reports issues its own set of hospital ratings – Consumer Reports: Your Safer-Surgery Survival GuideSurgery is scary. It usually involves having your body cut open, and sometimes things go wrong. … Perhaps scariest of all, though many hospitals now gather data on those problems, patients for the most part remain in the dark about surgical safety. Industry insiders have access to some of that information because hospitals track how well patients do and report results to state and national officials. … Our new surgery Ratings are part of an ongoing effort to shed light on hospital quality and to push the health care industry toward more transparency (7/30).Reuters: For Surgery, Big And Famous Hospitals Aren’t Always The BestIn the first effort of its kind, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine released ratings of 2,463 U.S. hospitals in all 50 states on Wednesday, based on the quality of surgical care. The group used two measures: the percentage of Medicare patients who died in the hospital during or after their surgery, and the percentage who stayed in the hospital longer than expected based on standards of care for their condition. Both are indicators of complications and overall quality of care, said Dr John Santa, medical director of Consumer Reports Health (Begley , 7/31).NBC News: ‘Top’ Hospitals Aren’t Always Tops, New Report FindsThe top hospitals don’t always live up to their reputations when it comes to handling surgery, according to a new report released on Wednesday. Consumer Reports used newly available federal government data to look at how patients fared after surgery at nearly 2,500 hospitals in 50 states. The report found some of the big-name hospitals did not always do well in preventing infections and other measures of quality care, while some busy urban hospitals that care for the poorest and sickest patients often did surprisingly well (Fox, 7/31). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.last_img read more

Longer Looks Fight Against Meth Labs Faces Drug Makers Opposition

first_img This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Longer Looks: Fight Against Meth Labs Faces Drug Makers’ Opposition Every week reporter Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.The Fresno Bee: Locked In TerrorThe Fresno County Jail has been a place of terror and despair for mentally ill inmates who spiral deeper into madness because jail officials withhold their medication. About one in six jail inmates is sick enough to need antipsychotic drugs to control schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and other psychiatric conditions, but many sit for weeks in cells without medication previously prescribed by private doctors, say family members, lawyers and psychiatrists. If the inmates do get medication, it’s often at a lower dose or is a cheaper generic substitute that doesn’t work as well, they say. … But the drug policy has raised costs significantly in other areas. Taxpayers spend millions of dollars each year on the inmates — above and beyond the cost of caring for them in the jail (Marc Benjamin, Barbara Anderson et al, August 2013).Health Affairs: In The Safety Net: A Tale Of Ticking Clocks And Tricky DiagnosesThe tempo had been building since our clinic session began. It was a typical Thursday afternoon in February, and the din was rising in the clinic’s conference room as our internal medicine residents traded patient stories and plans for dinner, waiting for their turn to present their patients to the attending physicians. … That afternoon, the most essential thing we managed to provide to one particular patient was a bit of extra time. Today I still think of what the consequences could have been if we had not taken that time. We would have missed the opportunity to intervene at a critical moment—and to save our patient’s life (Dr. Maria Madonado, 8/2013).The Atlantic: Why Doctors Are Reluctant To Take Responsibility For Rising Medical CostsMedical costs are skyrocketing and a survey published last month in JAMA has us doctors pointing fingers in every direction but at ourselves. The more than 2500 physicians surveyed rested most of the blame on malpractice lawyers, insurance companies, healthcare conglomerates, and drug/device companies. Patients came next. Trailing the lot were the doctors themselves. Doctors’ enthusiasm for cost-containment strategies that affected their compensation—eliminating fee-for-service reimbursement, “bundling” payments for the total care of patients, penalizing physicians when patients were re-admitted to the hospital—was notably lukewarm (Danielle Ofri, 8/14).Mother Jones: Merchants Of Meth: How Big Pharma Keeps The Cooks In BusinessThe first time she saw her mother passed out on the living room floor, Amanda thought she was dead. …The empty packages of cold medicine, the canisters of Coleman fuel, the smell, her parents’ strange behavior all pointed to one thing. They were meth cooks. Amanda (last name withheld to protect her privacy) told her grandparents, who lived next door. Eventually, they called police. … As law enforcement agencies scramble to clean up and dispose of toxic labs, prosecute cooks, and find foster homes for their children, they are waging two battles: one against destitute, strung-out addicts, the other against some of the world’s wealthiest and most politically connected drug manufacturers. In the past several years, lawmakers in 25 states have sought to make pseudoephedrine—the one irreplaceable ingredient in a shake-and-bake lab—a prescription drug. In all but two—Oregon and Mississippi—they have failed as the industry, which sells an estimated $605 million worth of pseudoephedrine-based drugs a year, has deployed all-star lobbying teams and campaign-trail tactics such as robocalls and advertising blitzes (Jonah Engle, 8/2013). last_img read more

Health Law Brings Changes For Small Business Regarding Insurance Coverage

first_imgHealth Law Brings Changes For Small Business Regarding Insurance Coverage This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. The Wall Street Journal reports that, even though businesses with fewer than 50 employers are exempt from the health law’s most stringent requirements, they still face challenges. Also, patient groups increasingly worry that coverage through the overhaul’s exchanges might shift drug costs to people with chronic illnesses, and HIV and AIDS advocates have filed a formal complaint about drug pricing. The Wall Street Journal: Small Firms Hit By Big Changes In Health CoverageSmaller employers aren’t required under the Affordable Care Act to offer coverage for their full-time workers—as larger firms must by 2016 or face penalties, for instance. But many owners of small ventures and startup entrepreneurs are nonetheless facing big changes to how they obtain their own health coverage, as well as to the benefits they’re able to offer employees. … Several thousand of the nation’s smallest business owners—sole proprietors and the self-employed—were kicked off their small-business plans by carriers earlier this year. That is because new guidelines define “employers” as having at least two full-time employees, not including a spouse, in order to be eligible for group plans (Loten, 8/6).The Associated Press: AIDS Patients Fear Discrimination In ACA ExchangePatient advocates say some insurance companies are making HIV and AIDS drugs unaffordable in plans issued through the Affordable Care Act by shifting much of the cost to customers. While the issue applies broadly to all patients with chronic illnesses that require expensive medication, HIV and AIDS advocates say they were the first to file a formal complaint with the government about pricing (Kennedy, 8/6).USA Today: The Kaiser Way: Lesson For U.S. Health Care?The Affordable Care Act has been dramatically changing the way hospitals do business, forcing them to rethink which patients they admit and focus on keeping people healthy. For Kaiser Permanente, however, it’s been largely business as usual, says CEO Bernard Tyson, who took the helm a year ago (O’Donnell, 8/6).last_img read more

Huawei problems mean bad news and good news for Samsung profits

first_img This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. Sign up for the Mobile NewsletterSign Up Please keep me up to date with special offers and news from Goodtoknow and other brands operated by TI Media Limited via email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Show More Unlike other sites, we thoroughly review everything we recommend, using industry standard tests to evaluate products. We’ll always tell you what we find. We may get a commission if you buy via our price links.Tell us what you think – email the Editor We’d also like to send you special offers and news just by email from other carefully selected companies we think you might like. Your personal details will not be shared with those companies – we send the emails and you can unsubscribe at any time. Please tick here if you are happy to receive these messages.By submitting your information, you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy & Cookies Policy. Samsung could see its profits more than halved in the company’s second-quarter thanks to a sharp drop in shipments to Huawei.Samsung is set to report its preliminary earnings on Friday and the company is expected to report its lowest quarterly result in almost three years with profits dropping by more than half, according to a report by Reuters. This fall is due to US restrictions on trade with Chinese competitor Huawei leading to a glut of unsold Samsung chip shipments.Related: Huawei’s Android replacement could be just months awaySamsung is the world’s biggest supplier of DRAM and NAND memory chips. The South Korean company is also the largest maker of smartphones, selling 292 million devices last year followed closely by Huawei’s 205 million. Huawei may be a competitor of Samsung, but it is also a huge source of income for the company’s chip sales and the restrictions are set to have a significant impact on Samsung financially.Samsung is struggling to flog its oversupply of chips without Huawei’s business. Trendforce tech researcher Avril Wu explained that it would be difficult for Samsung to clear its inventory of DRAM chips until the first half of 2020, leading to the company likely reporting a drop in profits throughout 2019.Related: Best Android PhonesTrendforce estimate that DRAM chip costs have fallen 25% in the past 3 months and that decline is likely to continue in the coming months.“How much Huawei will use chips ahead is definitely a swing factor in prices,” said Sangsangin Investment & Securities analyst Jay Kim. “When there’s not many players than can buy chips instead of Huawei, then Samsung has to cut prices to sell them”.Related: Best iPhoneSamsung’s smartphone business, on the other hand, is likely to soar thanks to Huawei’s troubles. A 40% drop in international sales for Huawei means that Samsung could sell around 37 million more smartphones annually, according to HI Investment & Securities senior analyst Song Myung-sup. Huawei’s troubles seem set to spell both good news and bad news for Samsung this year.last_img read more

New Battery Cell Patented By Tesla Faster Charging Lower Cost

Tesla Battery Biz Boosts Panasonic’s Earnings Tesla Novel Battery System … by on ScribdSource: Electrek The new battery cell comes with improved chemistry which might result in faster charging and discharging, better longevity, and even lower costComing from the Tesla battery research group, this patent promises an incremental step in improving the current Li-Ion batteries that are used in most electric vehicles. The research group – led by Jeff Dahn and located in Halifax – pushes the boundaries for current EV battery technology. Jeff has pretty much been working on Li-ion batteries ever since their introduction, making him the perfect lead in this research. Furthermore, he is credited in pushing the life cycle of the battery cells, an item that ensured the commercialization of these battery cells. The current cornerstone of Jeff’s work revolves around a potential increase in energy density and durability. An item that is highly coveted in both the EV and electronics industries.More battery tech items Tesla Buying Maxwell, Could Signal Move To Solid State Battery Source: Electric Vehicle News Back in 2016, Dahn has transitioned his research group from their 20-year research agreement with 3M to a new association with Tesla, all under the newly formed ‘NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research’. As part of this agreement, Tesla invested heavily into a new research group close to Dahn’s group location in Nova Scotia. Coming as a direct result of their work, this patent outlines a solution that promises improved chemistry within the battery cells. In turn, the solution could help produce EV batteries that feature faster charging and discharging, improved longevity, and finally, a lower production cost.Even though the news about a new patent comes after a few years of relative silence from Jeff Dahm, people affiliated with the battery industry knew that something was cooking for years. It was well-known (within the battery industry, at least) that Jeff, together with his group, was working on a solution that uses additives to the electrolytes within Li-ion batteries. Designed to increase the performance of the chemistry within the cells, these additives are a key ingredient in this research and the subsequent patent application. And now, after years of research, the group applied on a patent for this technology and made it public last night. The technology is called ‘Novel battery systems based on two-additive electrolyte systems’ and it promises an impressive leap in battery tech.The documentation attached to the patent application reveals how Dahn and his team were able to prove that using several additives to Li-ion batteries can improve the battery performance, lifetime expectancy, but also, cut the production costs associated with Li-ion battery cells as well. If you dug deeper into the matter, you’ll find out that, generally, five additives are needed. However, Dahn and his team came up with a solution where only two are used to deliver the same results. Quite fascinating!Two-additive electrolyte systems that enhance performance and lifetime of Li-ion batteries, while reducing costs from other systems that rely on more additives. This disclosure also discloses effective positive electrodes and negative electrodes that work with the disclosed two-additive electrolyte systems to provide further systematic enhancements.”Additionally, the patent outlines how the new two-additive mixtures in an electrolyte solvent can be used with lithium nickel manganese cobalt compounds, which is also known as an NMC battery chemistry. While the solution is routinely used by other carmakers, it’s not used by Tesla. The U.S. based carmaker uses the tech in its energy storage systems. However, they use NCA for the battery cells powering their vehicles. But, the new patent filed by the Tesla battery research group, describes how the new battery technology could be useful in both electric vehicle and energy grid storage applications.A full summary of Tesla’s new battery patent awaits you below. Furthermore, you’ll find images from the patent application and the full specification sheet. It’s a long read, but if you’re into battery tech, you’ll love this. And quite frankly, we can’t think of a better way to spend the morning, than by taking your daily dose of internet-powered commute with some batter geek talk. On the other hand, we’re well aware that everyone expected a solid state battery patent or something alongside those lines, but this can’t be labeled as disappointing in any way, as the technology outlined in this patent could allow for much better utilization in both energy storage applications and commercial vehicles use.Two-operative, additive electrolyte systems disclosed include 1) vinylene carbonate (VC) combined with 1,3,2-dioxathiolane-2,2-dioxide (DTD, also known as ethylene sulfate) or another sulfur-containing additive (such as methylene methane disulfonate, trimethylene sulfate, 3-hydroxypropanesulfonic acid γ-sultone, glycol sulfite, or another sulfur-containing additive), 2) fluoro ethylene carbonate (FEC) combined with DTD or another sulfur-containing additive, and 3) prop-1-ene-1,3-sultone (PES) combined with DTD or another sulfur-containing additive. Further, because VC and FEC provide similar improvements (and are believed to function similarly), a mixture of VC and FEC may be considered as only a single operative electrolyte. That is, another disclosed two-operative, additive electrolyte system includes a mixture of VC and FEC combined with DTD or another sulfur-containing additive. When used as part of a greater battery system (which includes the electrolyte, electrolyte solvent, positive electrode, and negative electrode), these two-operative, additive electrolyte systems produce desirable properties for energy storage applications, including in vehicle and grid applications.More specifically, lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) positive electrodes, a graphite negative electrodes, a lithium salt dissolved in an organic or non-aqueous solvent, which may include methyl acetate (MA), and two additives to form a battery system with desirable properties for different applications. The electrolyte solvent may be the following solvents alone or in combination: ethylene carbonate (EC), ethyl methyl carbonate (EMC), methyl acetate, propylene carbonate, dimethyl carbonate, diethyl carbonate, another carbonate solvent (cyclic or acyclic), another organic solvent, and/or another non-aqueous solvent. Solvents are present in concentrations greater than the additives, typically greater than 6% by weight. The solvent may be combined with the disclosed two-additive pairs (such as VC with DTD, FEC with DTD, a mixture of VC and FEC with DTD, or another combination) to form a battery system with desirable properties for different applications. The positive electrode may be coated with a material such as aluminum oxide (Al 2O 3), titanium dioxide (Ti02), or another coating. Further, as a cost savings, the negative electrode may be formed from natural graphite, however depending on the pricing structure, in certain instances artificial graphite is cheaper than natural graphite.” Battery-Electric Vehicle Charging: History And Future Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on February 5, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News read more

Seat To Launch 6 PlugIn Models By 2021 Develop New BEV Platform

first_imgSix plug-in models by until the beginning of 2021The latest plan envisions two all-electric and four plug-in hybrids to be introduced within around two years from now:Seat Mii (Volkswagen e-up! derivative)Seat el-Born (compact hatchback based on MEB platform)Seat Leon PHEVSeat Tarraco PHEV Cupra Leon PHEVCupra Formentor PHEV (to be produced in Martorell factory)New BEV platformSeat was selected to develop a new vehicle platform in collaboration with the Volkswagen brand, for the entire Volkswagen Group. The new platform will be:smaller version of the Modular Electric Drive Toolkit (MEB)for multiple brands and vehicles of the size of around 4 metres in lengthfor affordable electric cars, starting below €20,000 (in Europe) Seat Unveils Minimo Electric Concept Car Seat el-Born: A Stylin’ Stand Out Hatchback EV In Geneva (Photos/Videos) “For the first time in the history of the company, SEAT will develop a new vehicle platform in collaboration with the Volkswagen brand, a smaller version of the Modular Electric Drive Toolkit (MEB) on which multiple vehicles of the size of around four metres in length by different brands, SEAT among them, will be made. The goal of the new platform is to develop affordable electric vehicles, with an entry level price below 20,000 euros. More than 300 highly skilled engineers will be participating in this project in Spain.”During the presentation of the results held at SEAT’s corporate headquarters in Martorell, company CEO Luca de Meo stated that:“SEAT now has a clearer role in the Volkswagen Group, and thanks to the results obtained, we have earned the new electric vehicle platform.” “For the first time, the SEAT Technical Centre will be developing a platform that may be used by more brands around the globe”, added de Meo. Source: Electric Vehicle News Volkswagen AG CEO Dr. Herbert Diess attended the presentation and emphasized SEAT’s role within the Volkswagen Group:“SEAT is playing a new role within the Volkswagen Group taking on even more responsibility. This year’s achievements underline SEAT’s potential to make use of growth opportunities and open new markets.” Dr. Diess added that “the small electric platform project is a great step towards an even more affordable electric mobility. SEAT will realize the first electric vehicle that is especially designed for urban journeys.” Seat announced several plug-ins and a new affordable BEV platformSeat boasted great results in 2018 with record deliveries, record revenues and record profits, which was noticed by the Volkswagen Group.The Spanish brand is undoubtedly on the rise and today announced two bold electrification moves – the first is a lineup of plug-in electric cars, the second is a new platform for electric cars.Seat/Cupra news Cupra Formentor PHEV Is Manifesto Of Brand: Photos/Videos Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 27, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle Newslast_img read more

Electric Vehicle Loyalty Surges In Recent Months Study Finds

first_img US Plug-In Electric Car Sales Charted: March 2019 Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on April 15, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News Source: Electric Vehicle News Experian Automotive Says Tesla’s Customer Loyalty Is Unmatched “EV loyalty rates have been steadily increasing since their introduction by OEMs,” Tom Libby of IHS Markit said in the release. “As more new models enter the market, we anticipate an even further increase in loyalty to these vehicles.”There are some obvious correlations here, such as the number of new EVs being registered in the U.S. doubling from 2017 to 2018, and the widespread availability of the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3 that likely sent existing Nissan and Tesla customers back for another. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if the upward trajectory continues through 2019 as more examples such as the Audi E-Tron and Jaguar I-Pace reach market – and more and more leases expire.But for now, it looks like this whole EV thing might catch on.See the full release here:US Electric Vehicle Loyalty and Volumes Reach Record Highs, according to IHS MarkitSOUTHFIELD, (April 15, 2019) – The US market for fully electric vehicles (EVs) has reached record volumes with 208,000 new registrations in 2018, according to recent analysis by IHS Markit (Nasdaq: INFO), a leading business intelligence firm. The loyalty rates of EV buyers has also continued to grow.New registrations for EVs during 2018 more than doubled year-over-year from just over 100,000 while EV market share has also increased exponentially, over the past three years. Perhaps not surprisingly, 59 percent of these vehicles were registered in California and the section 177 states* which have all adopted the same vehicle emission standards and have therefore been key markets for EVs as the OEMs have launched new models. California on its own accounted for nearly 46 percent (95,000) of new EV registrations in 2018, according to the analysis.Loyalty rates for EVs are also on a growth trajectory with nearly 55 percent of all new EV owners who returned to market during the fourth quarter of 2018 acquiring (purchasing or leasing) another EV, up from 42 percent in the prior quarter, according to IHS Markit. The trend continued in January, with nearly 70 percent of EV owners returning to market for a new EV during that month.“EV loyalty rates have been steadily increasing since their introduction by OEMs. This increase over such a short timeframe demonstrates that a portion of the US market is highly accepting of this new technology and has a growing comfort level with it,” said Tom Libby, loyalty principal at IHS Markit. “As more new models enter the market, we anticipate an even further increase in loyalty to these vehicles.”In addition, IHS Markit forecasts a considerable increase in new fully-electric models offered in the US market over the next decade, with over 350,000 new EVs to be sold in the US in 2020, reflecting a 2 percent share of the total US fleet. In 2025, that figure is expected to rise to over 1.1 million vehicles sold or a 7 percent share, according to recent IHS Markit powertrain forecasts.“A rapid increase in EV nameplates is the catalyst behind the projected growth throughout the next decade,” said Devin Lindsay, IHS Markit powertrain analyst. “While relatively successful models such as the Tesla Model 3 mature in the market, other traditional automakers will be rolling out not just one EV as we have seen in the past, but multiple models off dedicated EV platforms.”Combined with anticipated entries in the market from start-up automakers like Rivian, Lucid and SF Motors, as well as traditional manufacturers, US consumers are expected to have substantially more choice on the dealership floor over the short-term.The greatest headwind for EV sales in the US may soon be any elimination or delay to California’s Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEV) mandate by the federal government. The EPA has proposed to withdraw the waiver and therefore the ability for California and the section 177 states to regulate greenhouse gases separately from federal standards. If allowed to stand, this could have a considerable impact on the nation’s most popular BEV market, IHS Markit predicts.As the EV market in the US and other key regions continues to grow, one thing is clear — the internal combustion engine is not going away any time soon, with IHS Markit forecasters anticipating them to continue to dominate the global market until past 2030.Source: IHS Markit Record sales of electric vehicles in the U.S. also means more consumers are sticking with the plug-ins.There’s new evidence to show that people who get an electric vehicle are now likely to get another. And that’s good news ahead of a number of new models being introduced in the coming months.IHS Markit released the results of a study Monday that showed a big jump in owner loyalty for EVs in the fourth quarter of 2018 versus the same period in 2017, with 54.8 percent of respondents in the last quarter getting another one versus 42.4 in the same period the year before. Of even more note were the nearly 70 percent of EV customers who returned to buy another in the first three months of 2019. It runs counter to the steady loyalty rates in the low 40 percent range in the rest of 2018.More EV sales news Edmunds: Electric And Hybrid Owner Loyalty Sinks To All-Time Low – We Explain Whylast_img read more

Registration Opens For The FCPA Institute – Washington DC

first_imgSince its launch in July 2014, the FCPA Institute has elevated the substantive and practical skills of lawyers, accountants, compliance professionals and business executives from around the world.After successful events in Milwaukee (July 2014), Miami (January 2015), and Houston (May 2015), the FCPA Institute is next coming to Washington, D.C. on August 13-14th. (Click here for further details and to register).The FCPA Institute is different from other FCPA conferences as information is presented in an integrated and cohesive manner by an expert instructor with FCPA practice and teaching experience.  Moreover, the FCPA Institute promotes active learning by participants through issue-spotting video exercises, skills exercises, small-group discussions, and the sharing of real-world practices and experiences.To best facilitate the unique learning experience that the FCPA Institute represents, attendance at each FCPA Institute is capped at 30 participants.At the end of the FCPA Institute, participants can elect to have their knowledge assessed and can earn a certificate of completion upon passing a written assessment tool.  In this way, successful completion of the FCPA Institute represents a value-added credential for professional development. In addition, attorneys who complete the FCPA Institute may be eligible to receive Continuing Legal Education (“CLE”) credits.Set forth below is a sampling of what FCPA Institute “graduates” have said about their experience.“Unlike other FCPA conferences where one leaves with a spinning head and unanswered questions, I left the FCPA Institute with a firm understanding of the nuts and bolts of the FCPA, the ability to spot issues, and knowledge of where resources can be found that offer guidance in resolving an issue.  The limited class size of the FCPA Institute ensured that all questions were answered and the interactive discussion among other compliance professionals was fantastic.” (Rob Foster, In-House Counsel, Oil and Gas Company) “The FCPA Institute was a professionally enriching experience and substantially increased my understanding of the FCPA and its enforcement. Professor Koehler’s extensive insight and practical experience lends a unique view to analyzing enforcement actions and learning compliance best practices. I highly recommend the FCPA Institute to practitioners from all career stages.” (Sherbir Panag, MZM Legal, Mumbia, India) The FCPA Institute is a top-flight conference that offers an insightful, comprehensive review of the FCPA enforcement landscape.  Professor Koehler’s focus on developing practical skills in an intimate setting really sets it apart from other FCPA conferences.  One of the best features of the FCPA Institute is its diversity of participants and the ability to learn alongside in-house counsel, company executives and finance professionals. (Blair Albom, Associate, Debevoise & Plimpton) “The FCPA Institute is very different than other FCPA conferences I have attended.  It was interactive, engaging, thought-provoking and at the completion of the Institute I left feeling like I had really learned something new and useful for my job.  The FCPA Institute is a must-attend for all compliance folks (in-house or external).” (Robert Wieck, CPA, CIA, CFE – Forensic Audit Senior Manager, Oracle Corporation) “The FCPA Institute provided an in-depth look into the various forces that have shaped, and that are shaping, FCPA enforcement.  The diverse group of participants provided unique insight into how, at a practical level, various professionals evaluate risk and deal with FCPA issues on a day-to-day basis.  The small group setting, the interactive nature of the event, and the skills assessment test all set the FCPA Institute apart from other FCPA conferences or panel-based events.” (John Turlais, Senior Counsel, Foley & Lardner)last_img read more

FCPA Flash Podcast – A Conversation With Bruce Yannett Regarding The Top

first_imgThe FCPA Flash podcast provides in an audio format the same fresh, candid, and informed commentary about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related topics as readers have come to expect from written posts on FCPA Professor.This FCPA Flash episode is a conversation with Bruce Yannett (Debevoise & Plimpton). Yannett has a wealth of experience in FCPA matters and among his many engagements was representing Siemens and Rolls Royce in connection with FCPA and related scrutiny.During the podcast, Yannett identifies and elaborates on his list of the most notable issues from 2017: (i) the DOJ’s “FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy” and implications for self-reporting;  (ii) international enforcement and the continuing rise of coordinated settlements; and (iii) the fallout from Kokesh v. SEC and how to balance SEC, DOJ and international enforcement and statutes of limitation.last_img read more

Once Again Rebooting A LongStanding FCPA Proposal This Time In The Aftermath

first_img Learn More & Register Including the first time I proposed this concept in 2010, this is the seventh time I have written this general post (see here, here, here, here, here and here for the previous versions) and until things change I will keep writing it which means I will probably keep writing this same general post long into the future.The proposal is this: when a company voluntarily discloses an FCPA internal investigation to the DOJ and/or SEC and when one or both of the enforcement agencies do not bring an enforcement action, have the enforcement agency publicly state, in a thorough and transparent manner, the facts the company disclosed and why the enforcement agency did not bring an enforcement action based on those facts.As highlighted in this prior post, in October 2015 Millicom, a telecom and media company headquartered in Luxembourg with shares traded over the counter (OTC) in the U.S., disclosed:“Millicom … announced that it has reported to law enforcement authorities in the United States and Sweden potential improper payments made on behalf of the company’s joint venture in Guatemala. A Special Committee of the Board of Directors made the decision in connection with an independent investigation being overseen by the Special Committee and conducted by international law firm Covington & Burling LLP, with the support of Millicom’s management team. Millicom is committed to fully cooperating with the authorities. It is not possible at this time to predict the matter’s likely duration or outcome. Millicom is committed to the highest ethical business standards and to full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations in every market in which the company operates.”Earlier this week, the company disclosed:“In October 2015, Millicom voluntarily reported to the U.S. Department of Justice potential improper payments made on behalf of the company’s joint venture in Guatemala and, since then, has cooperated fully with the Justice Department’s investigation. Yesterday, the Justice Department informed Millicom that it is closing its investigation. Millicom is committed to the highest ethical business standards and to full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations in every market in which the company operates.”If the FCPA enforcement agencies are sincere about transparency in their FCPA enforcement programs as enforcement officials frequently mention, the public (not to mention Millicom shareholders who likely shelled out millions if this instance of FCPA scrutiny followed the typical path) have a right to know the facts the company disclosed and why the enforcement agency did not bring an enforcement action based on those facts. Here is why the proposal makes sense and is in the public interest.For starters (as I first wrote in 2010 and even more relevant today), the DOJ and the SEC are already wildly enthusiastic when it comes to talking about FCPA issues. Enforcement attorneys from both agencies are frequent participants on the FCPA conference circuit and there seems to be no other single law that is the focus of more DOJ or SEC speeches than the FCPA. Thus, there is clearly enthusiasm and ambition at both agencies when it comes to the FCPA.Further (as I first wrote in 2010 and even more relevant today), both the DOJ and the SEC have the resources to accomplish this task. Both agencies have touted the increased FCPA resources in their respective offices and the new personnel hired to focus on the FCPA. Combine enthusiasm and ambition with sufficient resources and personnel and the proposal certainly seems doable considering that there are likely less than 10 relevant examples per year.In addition, the DOJ is already used to this type of exercise. It is called the FCPA Opinion Procedure Release (see here), a process the DOJ frequently urges those subject to the FCPA to utilize. Under the Opinion Procedure regulations, an issuer or domestic concern subject to the FCPA can voluntarily disclose prospective business conduct to the DOJ which then has 30 days to respond to the request by issuing an opinion that states whether the prospective conduct would, for purposes of the DOJ’s present enforcement policy, violate the FCPA. The DOJ’s opinions are publicly released and the FCPA bar and the rest of FCPA Inc. study these opinions in advising clients largely because of the general lack of substantive FCPA case law.If the DOJ is able to issue an enforcement opinion as to voluntarily disclosed prospective conduct there seems to be no principled reason why the enforcement agencies could not issue a non-enforcement opinion as to voluntarily disclosed actual conduct. If the enforcement agencies are sincere about providing guidance on the FCPA, as they presumably are, such agency opinions would seem to provide an ideal platform to accomplish such a purpose.Requiring the enforcement agencies to disclose non-enforcement decisions after a voluntary disclosure could also inject some much needed discipline into the voluntary disclosure decision itself – a decision which seems to be reflexive in many instances any time facts suggest the FCPA may be implicated. For instance, Millicom’s initial disclosure refers to “potential improper payments.”Why a company would disclose “potential improper payments” is beyond me, but then again see this prior post for the important voluntary disclosure decision and the role of FCPA counsel. Or as stated by the DOJ’s former fraud section chief: “if you get two of these [FCPA investigations] a year as a partner, you’re pretty much set.” (See here).Notwithstanding the presence of significant conflicting incentives to do otherwise, it is hoped that FCPA counsel would advise clients to disclose only if a reasonably certain legal conclusion has been reached that the conduct at issue actually violates the FCPA. Accepting this assumption, transparency in FCPA enforcement would be enhanced if the public learned why the enforcement agencies, in the face of a voluntary disclosure, presumably disagreed with the company’s conclusion as informed by FCPA counsel. If the enforcement agencies agreed with the conclusion that the FCPA was violated, but decided not to bring an enforcement action, transparency in FCPA enforcement would similarly be enhanced if the public learned why.A final reason in support of the proposal is that it would give the disclosing companies (and others similarly situated) a benefit by contributing to the mix of public information about the FCPA.In most cases, companies spend millions of dollars investigating conduct that may implicate the FCPA and on the voluntary disclosure process. When the enforcement agencies do not bring an enforcement action, presumably because the FCPA was not violated, these costs are forever sunk and company shareholders can legitimately ask why the company just spent millions investigating and disclosing conduct that the DOJ and the SEC did not conclude violated the FCPA.However, if the enforcement agencies were required to publicly justify their decision not to bring an enforcement action after a voluntary disclosure, the company would achieve, however small, a return on its investment and contribute to the mix of public information about the FCPA – a law which the company will remain subject to long after its voluntary disclosure and long after the enforcement agencies no enforcement decision. Thus, the company, the company’s industry peers, and indeed all those subject to the FCPA would benefit by learning more about the DOJ and the SEC’s enforcement conclusions.Transparency, accountability, useful guidance, a return on investment.All would be accomplished by requiring the enforcement agencies to publicly justify a non-enforcement decision after a voluntary disclosure.All points to ponder … until the next time I write this same general post.center_img FCPA Institute – Boston (Oct. 3-4) A unique two-day learning experience ideal for a diverse group of professionals seeking to elevate their FCPA knowledge and practical skills through active learning. Learn more, spend less. CLE credit is available.last_img read more

AllTime Season Receptions Leaders

first_img97 – Braylon Edwards (2004)89 – Jeremy Gallon (2013)86 – Marquise Walker (2001)85 – Braylon Edwards (2003)82 – Jason Avant (2005)76 – Jack Clancy (1966)72 – Mario Manningham (2007)72 – Roy Roundtree (2010)71 – David Terrell (1999)67 – Tai Streets (1998)67 – David Terrell (2000)67 – Braylon Edwards (2002)67 – Adrian Arrington (2007)63 – Desmond Howard (1990)62 – Desmond Howard (1991)62 – Devin Funchess (2014)58 – Steve Breaston (2006)58 – Amara Darboh (2015)57 – Amara Darboh (2016)54 – Amani Toomer (1994)53 – Bennie Joppru (2002)52 – Jack Clancy (1965)51 – Jim Mandich (1969)51 – Anthony Carter (1980)51 – Jake Butt (2015) 1 0You need to login in order to vote Jeremy Gallon Tags: all-time leaders, Jeremy Galloncenter_img A couple weeks ago, I posted the single-game leaders (LINK). Here are the top receiving leaders for a season:last_img read more

FDA provides guidance on Novus Therapeutics development path for OP02 to treat

first_img Source:http://ir.novustherapeutics.com/news-releases/news-release-details/novus-therapeutics-receives-fda-guidance-type-c-meeting-op-02 Jun 19 2018Novus Therapeutics, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing products for patients with disorders of the ear, nose, and throat (ENT), announced receipt of final meeting minutes from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) following a Type C meeting held at the Company’s request to discuss its OP-02 development program in otitis media.Related StoriesResearch reveals genetic cause of deadly digestive disease in childrenWhy Mattresses Could be a Health Threat to Sleeping ChildrenRevolutionary gene replacement surgery restores vision in patients with retinal degeneration”The FDA provided guidance on our planned 505(b)(2) development path for OP-02 and confirmed that no additional preclinical or clinical studies beyond our planned phase 1 safety study in healthy adults will be required before initiation of phase 2 studies in children 6-months of age or older with otitis media,” said Dr. Catherine C. Turkel, President of Novus Therapeutics, Inc.”In addition, the FDA confirmed that development of OP-02 for separate otitis media treatment and prevention indications is acceptable and provided us with initial guidance on study design for these indications. We look forward to working with the FDA as we continue to develop OP-02 as a potential first-in-class treatment option for the millions of patients burdened by otitis media,” concluded Dr. Turkel.last_img read more

Mice study shows mothers dengue immunity protects unborn from ZIKA infection

first_imgAug 2 2018Dengue and Zika viruses are closely related and carried by mosquitos. In infested subtropical and tropical areas, dengue transmission often precedes Zika virus (ZIKV) infection, suggesting that women who previously acquired dengue immunity may be bitten by ZIKV-carrying mosquitoes during pregnancy. Whether that mother’s prior dengue immunity would protect her unborn baby from devastating brain defects such as microencephaly associated with ZIKV is unknown.Now the laboratory of La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (LJI) investigator Sujan Shresta, Ph.D., reports critical findings in mouse models that address this question experimentally. Their paper, published in the August 2, 2018, edition of Nature Communications, shows that when dengue-immune pregnant mice are exposed to ZIKV, their embryos remain viable and normal-looking. The researchers also detected a population of immune cells, known as CD8+ cytotoxic T cells, mobilized as an immune response to dengue infection, which recognize ZIKV and limit the infection in pregnant mice.These findings could guide development of more effective flavivirus vaccines and hint at what types of immune responses are maximally protective against fetal brain damage after Zika invasion.”A key question has been why only a subset of Zika-exposed mothers in dengue-endemic countries like Brazil give birth to children with congenital birth defects,” says Shresta, an associate professor in LJI’s Center for Infectious Disease. “Given that these viruses are so similar to each other, we wondered if prior immunity to dengue could confer cross-protection against Zika.”In 2017, her lab provided support for this idea when they reported that dengue-infected adult mice exhibit immunity against Zika infection due to induction of cross-reactive CD8+ T cells. The new paper describes a variation on that experiment: dengue-immune female mice (or dengue-naïve controls) were mated to induce pregnancy and then infected with ZIKV at early an embryonic stage to test whether dengue immunity shielded not just mothers but fetuses from damage.The results were dramatic. Fetuses from dengue-naive controls either disappeared or markedly shrank, as predicted following Zika infection. By contrast, fetuses of dengue-immune mice infected with ZIKV appeared normal, and many were indistinguishable from mice never exposed to ZIKV. Other experiments revealed that CD8+ cytotoxic T cells raised by dengue infection remained present at the maternal/placental border of Zika-infected pregnant mice, suggesting a line of defense against ZIKV transmission across the placenta. Experimental elimination of those specific T cells confirmed this to be true: fetuses became vulnerable to destruction by Zika infection.Related StoriesStudy provides new insight into longitudinal decline in brain network integrity associated with agingResearch team to create new technology for tackling concussionNew therapy shows promise in preventing brain damage after traumatic brain injuryThe group also injected female mice never exposed to dengue with short dengue virus proteins or “peptides” known to induce T cell responses in order to simulate a vaccine scenario. When these vaccinated mice were made pregnant and exposed to ZIKV, they showed decreased Zika infection in the placenta compared to unvaccinated mice, demonstrating that the T cell response was effective.Currently, there are no FDA-approved Zika vaccines, and those under development elicit primarily antibody (B cell) rather than T cell responses. Anti-dengue vaccines that also primarily evoke antibody rather than T cell responses are in clinical trials and show only moderate success.One conclusion is that an effective vaccine will require both types of immunity. “Dengue and ZIKV are carried by the same mosquitoes, co-circulate in overlapping geographic ranges, are structurally related, and evoke cross-reactive antibody and T cell responses,” says Jose Angel Regla-Nava, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the Shresta lab and a co-lead author. “Both antibody and T cell responses together may be required for protection against these infections.”Given this evidence, it may seem surprising that almost all vaccines marketed today were designed to evoke antibody responses. “Historically, it has been more straightforward to design vaccines that elicit antibody responses,” says postdoctoral fellow Annie Elong Ngono, Ph.D., the study’s co-lead author. “Creating vaccines that induce strong T cell responses is very challenging and will require new technologies. But our findings that cross-reactive T cells elicit a strong response against two related viruses encourage that approach.”Persistence of cross-reactive T cells may also solve the South American epidemiological puzzle. “This and our previous study in mice show that prior dengue immunity provides cross-protection against ZIKV and may explain why not every pregnant woman exposed to ZIKV gives birth to an affected child,” says Shresta. “But in mice, we find that period of cross-protection to be short. So we are working on ways to boost this cross-protective immunity.” Source:https://www.lji.org/last_img read more

Hoping to head off an epidemic Congo turns to experimental Ebola vaccine

first_img Hoping to head off an epidemic, Congo turns to experimental Ebola vaccine Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country John Bompengo/Democratic Republic of the Congo Ministry of Public Health The first ever effort to use a vaccine to stop an Ebola outbreak in its initial stages is taking shape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The international response to health emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa is often maddeningly slow. But this time around, international agencies and the DRC government sprang into action, hoping to quickly extinguish the outbreak.“Everything is organized,” says virologist Yap Boum, who works with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and is helping launch the vaccine effort. Boum, who lives in Yaoundé, Cameroon, began planning his trip to the DRC as soon as it confirmed on 8 May that two Ebola cases had occurred in the remote Bikoro health district in the Équateur province.By tracing contacts between the infected people and others who had Ebola symptoms, such as high fevers and diarrhea, the DRC’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) determined that the virus has likely been spreading since early April. As Science went to press, a total of 25 other probable cases and 14 suspected ones had been identified in Bikoro and two adjacent health districts. Nineteen of these people have died. Health care workers at Bikoro hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo get sprayed with disinfectant after leaving a quarantined Ebola treatment unit. By Jon CohenMay. 15, 2018 , 3:30 PMcenter_img Boum says the most alarming news from the DRC so far is that two of the probable cases are in Mbandaka, a port city of 1.2 million people. “The possibility of the virus spreading is huge,” adds Boum, noting that while Ebola is incubating undetected—which can take several weeks—the victim is already infectious. DRC President Joseph Kabila has authorized MOPH to use every tool at its disposal, including the experimental vaccine against Ebola, which worked spectacularly well in a clinical trial that Boum helped run in Guinea in 2015 at the tail end of the recent West African epidemic.The World Health Organization (WHO) also acted quickly, immediately sending a team to the DRC to coordinate the response, which includes improved surveillance, introduction of safe medical and burial techniques, and the establishment of quarantine units operated by MSF and others.WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus even visited Bikoro last week. WHO has been heavily criticized for its slow response to the West African epidemic, the worst Ebola outbreak on record, which sickened more than 28,000 people and killed an estimated 11,310 before traditional containment efforts ended it.The DRC considered using the vaccine for an Ebola outbreak last year, but it met with hurdles including importing the vaccine and uncertainty about whether the virus had moved beyond remote villages. “This time they’re much better prepared,” says Seth Berkley, who heads Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a nonprofit based in Geneva, Switzerland, that purchased a stockpile of the experimental vaccine and is providing financial assistance to the DRC.The vaccine consists of a harmless livestock virus genetically engineered to display Ebola surface proteins. It is made by Merck and not yet licensed for use by any country, but can be given as part of a trial under what are known as compassionate use regulations. The trial protocol, approved by DRC last year, relies on a “ring” strategy in which only people who have come in contact with cases, their contacts, health care workers, and other front-line responders are vaccinated. At press time, surveillance teams had identified 393 contacts. Some 8000 doses are being shipped to the DRC from WHO’s Geneva headquarters and Merck’s U.S. storage site. Special Arktek containers have already arrived that can maintain the vaccine at below freezing temperatures for travel to remote locations.MSF will sponsor the trial in collaboration with investigators from the DRC’s health ministry. The team will follow vaccinated people for 84 days to assess whether any develop Ebola and to evaluate side effects.The vaccine is but one of many tools being wielded to stop the outbreak as quickly as possible. All told, Gavi, WHO, the United Nations, and the Wellcome Trust have committed about $8 million to the DRC response, which includes sending mobile laboratories and equipment to the affected region, parts of which cannot be reached by car. “It’s absolutely a dire scene in terms of infrastructure,” said Peter Salama, who heads WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme. “This is going to be tough and it’s going to be costly to stamp out this outbreak.” Email Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwelast_img read more

Labgrown patch of heart muscle and other cells could fix ailing hearts

first_imgA patch of lab-grown human heart tissue (left) has holes near its edges to make it easier to attach to a damaged heart. A magnified look at one implanted on a mouse heart shows the patch’s capillaries (red) nourishing its muscle cells (green). Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Lab-grown patch of heart muscle and other cells could fix ailing hearts At one point, cardiologists thought the heart had a secret stash of stem cells that could be stimulated to repair the organ naturally, but now most biologists agree such cells don’t exist in the heart. An alternative in early clinical trials is to make heart muscle cells in a lab dish from other stem cells, inject them into the artery supplying the heart, and hope they settle in the organ and compensate for any dead tissue.Bursac is skeptical of that approach, because the percentage of cells that survive injection and make it to the heart is very small. His approach requires open-heart surgery, but it delivers a repair that more closely matches the cell types and architecture of the real organ. “What people are now seeing is you need more structure and more cells,” says Jeffrey Jacot, a bioengineer at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.Bursac started to work on heart patches as a Ph.D. student, coaxing neonatal rat cells to transform into heart muscle in a dish and contract—a first for mammals. Other researchers developed tiny heart tissue swatches for testing drugs in lab dishes. But Bursac wants to fix hearts directly. Over the years, his team has learned the best scaffolds for culturing stem cells are made of fibrin, a protein that helps form blood clots, and the best way to nurture these scaffolded cells is to gently rock them inside a suspended frame that allows the growing patch to swish back and forth in liquid media. “These cells mature and become strongly contracting,” Bursac says.In 2016, when his lab figured out how to produce those powerful contractions, the heart patches were tiny. Then, 2 years ago, the team grew a 4-centimeter-by-4-centimeter patch—potentially big enough to repair a damaged human heart.”The size is exciting,” says Christopher Chen, a bioengineer at Boston University. It “suggests that you can get to a scale that is clinically relevant.”Bursac’s team also showed in rodents that blood vessels from the heart being treated can expand into the patch to keep it alive. Bursac has recently woven in more complexity, adding populations of endothelial cells, which develop into blood vessels, and fibroblast cells, which he realized can help the patch form and become stronger. A patch composed of 70% heart muscle cells, with the other two kinds of cells making up the rest, appears best so far, he reported at the meeting.When the patch is implanted in rats and mice, its capillary network hooks up with the rodent’s circulatory system, he reported. “But we still don’t know if this can provide a survival advantage to the patch.”Nor is it clear how—or even whether—a patch will become electrically and mechanically integrated with the original heart so they function as a true unit. Because the patch would be stitched to the outside of a damaged heart, over the scar tissue, “it is difficult to have [it] beat coordinately with existing muscle,” points out Katherine Yutzey, a cardiac biologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio.Answers may come from tests of these human heart patches in pigs or other large animals, which Bursac is conducting with bioengineer Jianyi Zhang at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. But Michelle Tallquist, a cardiovascular biologist at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu, worries that producing a patch for someone who has just suffered a heart attack could take too long—as much as 6 months if the patient’s own cells were used as the starting point.Bursac thinks the answer could be to develop a bank of immunologically matched stem cells, which might be coaxed as needed into a heart patch in as few as 3 weeks. For him, the prize is clear. 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Countrycenter_img Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack. Each time, up to a billion heart muscle cells suffocate. Those lost cells never regrow, leaving almost 800,000 people a year impaired for life—if they survive at all. Nenad Bursac believes he can patch some of those people up, literally.Over the past 20 years, the bioengineer from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has been developing a “patch” that could take the place of the cells destroyed by a heart attack. In rodents, he has found it can hook up to the circulatory system and contract. Bursac’s patch is now about the size of a poker chip and the thickness of cardboard—big and complex enough to be tested in large animals, he declared this month at the Experimental Biology 2019 meeting in Orlando, Florida.Like others attempting to repair damaged hearts, Bursac starts with stem cells, which can develop into specialized tissues such as heart muscle. But whereas some researchers inject hundreds of millions of individual heart muscle cells into the body, Bursac’s team and several other groups grow full-fledged pieces of heart muscle in a dish, which surgeons could attach to a damaged heart. “This could be a transformative approach,” says Ralph Marcucio, a developmental biologist at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine. Bursac’s research effort “is the best in the field,” adds Martine Dunnwald, a cell biologist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Email By Elizabeth PennisiApr. 24, 2019 , 4:30 PM BURSAC LAB/DUKE UNIVERSITY last_img read more